British Columbia

More than 70 new wildfires reported in B.C. after dry lightning

More than 70 new wildfires have broken out in B.C. in the past two days amid sweltering heat in parts of the province.

B.C. Wildfire Service reported 93 active fires as of Tuesday afternoon, with most in southern B.C.

A fire burns in the Pemberton Valley above Miller Creek on Monday. (Submitted by Robbie J. Stevens)

More than 70 new wildfires have broken out in B.C. in the past two days amid sweltering heat in parts of the province.

The B.C. Wildfire Service reported 93 active fires as of Tuesday afternoon, with most of the fires clustered in the southern part of the province.

They include a fire north of Okanagan Falls that triggered an evacuation order for hundreds of nearby homes.

More than half the new wildfires in B.C. are linked to Sunday's night storm, which saw 1,600 lightning strikes tear across the South Coast and Central Interior.

"A lot of the spark-ups that we've had have been pretty tiny," said Sarah Hall, a fire information officer with the province's wildfire co-ordination centre.

"Our crews are jumping on them very quickly and extinguishing them." 

None of the fires so far in B.C. pose any risk to people or buildings, Hall said.

Fires in coastal, southeast regions 

The lightning ignited 29 new fires in the Coastal Fire Centre region, according to fire information officer Dorthe Jakobsen. 

"Dry lightning is what we definitely don't want to see," she said. "And we don't want to see it when we've just come through a period of hot, dry weather in the area."

Officials have deployed multiple crews and 17 helicopters in southern Vancouver Island and the Pemberton, B.C., area, the two most active areas, Jakobsen said.

Twenty-four fires also broke out in southeast B.C. Monday, the majority caused by lightning, Hall said.

A couple rogue strikes also hit the Kamloops area, she said. The region has seen 10 new fires, in addition to three that are still active. 

The B.C. Wildfire Service said multiple crews and aircraft are assessing reports of fire, and information will change over the next few days.

This summer has marked one of the quietest fire seasons in the past decade, but officials warn the sustained hot, dry weather could lead to more wildfires in southern B.C.

Environment Canada issued heat warnings Tuesday morning for the Kootenay Lake and Fraser Canyon regions, forecasting highs of 35 C and overnight lows of 18 C.

Hall said officials are monitoring the threat of lightning in northern B.C., with up to an 80 per cent chance of lightning in Dawson Creek, B.C., and the Fort St. John area.

The province has seen nearly 500 wildfires to date this summer.

With files from Brady Strachan


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